Given the widespread use of radiation in nuclear medicine and radiation oncology procedures in the United States and around the world, it is likely that crematory operators have cared for the bodies of individuals who have undergone treatments involving the use of radiation.
Importantly, one of the tenets of the National Funeral Directors Association’s Certified Crematory Operator Program™ is to ensure that crematory operators have the necessary information about the decedent to conduct cremation safely. NFDA guidance on authorizations includes the need to obtain representation that there are no radioactive or other implants, pacemakers or mechanical devices in the remains as they may create a hazardous condition when placed in the cremation chamber and subjected to heat. Typically, the authorization includes detail as to all devices which may have been implanted in or attached to the remains, which may possibly require special precautions before the remains are placed in the cremation chamber and subjected to heat.
In response to the recent publication of a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Research Letter titled, "Radiation Contamination Following Cremation of a Deceased Patient Treated with Radiopharmaceutical", NFDA has created a new Cremation & Disposition Authorization form that includes more information and emphasis on radioactive treatments.